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University of Missouri - Kansas City
Old Hat uncovered a variety of opinions from athletics and university staff that provided great insight into where we should go with our identity. Combining our feedback and their creative expertise, Old Hat got us to where we wanted to go with our brand and identity, as the world class university in the world class city of Kansas City. - Dr. Brandon Martin, Director of Athletics

University of Missouri – Kansas City – UMKC Unveils new Brand

Summary

When it came to UMKC’s brand equity within Kansas City, there wasn’t much for the department to hang its hat on. Being the only DI program in the heart of a sports-mad town, those who have an affinity towards the Roos have a tremendous amount of pride in their city.  UMKC approached Old Hat hoping to find a way to get out from the shadow cast by the University of Missouri, KU, and K-State, and snag a larger market share in the city they call home.

Branding & LogosGraphic Design

Challenge

Their brand identity was in need of an upgrade and a refresh. The existing Roos’ mark didn’t resonate with student-athletes, students, coaches, and (most notably) fans.

Old Logo

They tasked Old Hat to reposition the department in the KC area while adjusting their identity to one that centered on being the city’s DI team.  With that in mind, we embarked on a dual-discovery, reviewing both the brand and the identity.

Our Roles

We recognized the need for a new brand and it needed to focus first on their identity because, as we quickly learned, it wasn’t recognizable. We conducted surveys of UMKC fans and members of the surrounding community, as well as athletics admins / faculty to identify where they’re “at” and how they got “there” in the first place.

The overwhelming response from our discovery session with the university and athletics administrators was that they wanted their brand identity to truly embrace “Kansas City.” As the only DI college program within a short drive from the KC metropolitan area, they felt that they needed to do a better job of “owning” Kansas City. Additionally, they felt that their current identity did not communicate strength, did not look “collegiate”, and certainly did not express any ties to the city they call home.

From an external perspective, the current brand identity lacked equity with fans. Fan surveys revealed that even among long-standing UMKC fans, there was an apathy toward the primary logo and accompanying marks. We saw this as a great opportunity to reignite passion with the established fanbase and create affinity with students, younger fans and families in the surrounding area.

What they dislike...What they like...
1. Typeface1. Colors
2. No tie to Kansas City2. Not much else
3. Kangaroo is unattractive
4. Not "athletic" looking
5. Outdated

Solution

We wanted to revamp their brand identity with a mark that paid tribute to their past while appealing to a greater group of fans / alums. We also wanted to incorporate elements of Kansas City (specifically architectural elements) and make these a definitive a big part of the new identity. Furthermore, we wanted to reposition them away from the UMKC moniker to being referred to simply as “Kansas City”.

During our discovery process, we were drawn to Country Club Plaza, an iconic area of the city that’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from campus. We saw similar architectural elements repeated not only in the European style prevalent in the plaza, but also in the renowned Kauffman Center of Performing Arts and also in the many fountains found throughout Kansas City. We felt that these shapes would work well as inspiration for the new marks.

Results

We didn’t realize we’d learn so much about kangaroos! In regards to the new mark itself, our creative team first focused on a profile view of the new Roo, but sketched out other options, with the department settling on front-facing view.

The “fists up” illustration pays homage to a mark used in Kansas City’s past, giving the mark a traditional collegiate look with a modern spin. Additionally, the Roo’s sweater features a custom interlocking KC that leaves no doubt where this Roo calls home.

Finally, the primary logo focuses heavily “Kansas City” as the university name, utilizing a custom typeface that communicates strength and confidence.

Everything from the shape of the Roo’s body, to the interlocking KC, to the custom typeface features the architectural elements found throughout Kansas City.

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